Date of Award

Summer 8-2023

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



Resilience is a dynamic process of positive adaptation when faced with significant adversity. The extensive and protracted disruptions to adolescents' academic and social engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic created unique challenges, which have included concerns about academic/work habits, social connections, physical health, and mental health (Scott et al., 2020). In what ways did adolescents operationalize resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic? And, what can that tell us about how we should conceptualize resilience generally? At the end of the first full school year of the pandemic in April 2021, we asked a diverse group of 2,171 high schoolers an open-ended question: “What ways did you show resilience during this past year?” We coded adolescents’ responses using inductive content analysis, and we found that responses fell into three major categories: (1) personal traits, (2) self-regulation strategies, and (3) activities that adolescents believed demonstrated resilience. Students reported activities and traits at much higher levels than self-regulation strategies, thereby suggesting an opportunity for interventions that bolster self-regulation strategy use. These results also help us consider how resilience is understood by adolescents and how they experience resilience during a global pandemic. We discuss how adolescents’ actual lived experiences compare with existing models of resilience that have been created by researchers. Fortunately, we see much overlap between how adolescents experience resilience and the ways researchers have been conceptualizing resilience, supporting the ecological validity of existing models.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Christopher Rozek

Committee Members

Andrew Butler, Rowhea Elmesky